With the college basketball season less than a week away, what fun is it to look at just the projected outright winner of a conference? The Atlantic 10 Conference seems to have a clear front-runner when it comes to the regular-season title. St Bonaventure comes into the 2021-22 season returning nearly everyone from a season ago. The Bonnies starting lineup will consist of five seniors, led by Preseason All-Conference First Team selections, Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi. Osunniyi is also a Preseason All-Defensive team selection as well.
With what looks like a lock for first place in the conference, what other teams have a reasonable chance to take a shot at dismantling the Bonnies?
With St Bonaventure pretty much locking up the top spot in the Atlantic 10 for a lot of people, Richmond is the only real threat to take out the reigning A10 champions. Just like the Bonnies, the Spiders have two players on the Preseason All-Conference First Team list. Jacob Gilyard is one of those names, returning for his fifth season, he is one of the best defensive guards in the conference. Another returning super-senior is Grant Golden. Both of these players have the potential to lead the Spiders to an A10 championship.
Richmond returns four of their top five scorers from a season ago, who are all upperclassmen, giving them the best shot out of all the teams in the conference to keep up with St Bonaventure. Richmond had a down year last season, Head Coach, Chris Mooney is hoping for a bounce-back year from his team.
VCU comes into the season losing some key pieces of the offense. One of those pieces was star-sensation, Bones Hyland. This loss will be felt the most because of the sheer offensive talent that Hyland brought to VCU. Alongside Hyland, VCU doesn’t bring back Jimmy Clark lll, who averaged 16 minutes per game. The Rams also lose another decent minutes guy in Corey Douglas Jr.
With the losses that VCU has, they also bring back five of their six top scorers from a season ago. The biggest question mark for VCU this season will be scoring. Out of all the returnees, one averaged over 10 PPG. The team’s leading returning scorer, Vince Willams landed on the Preseason All-Conference Second Team, along with junior Hason Ward landing on the All-Defensive Team for the Rams.
With the interesting developments over the past couple of weeks, VCU has the pieces to contend for an A10 title if they play their cards right.
The Atlantic 10 definitely has the feeling that there is already a champion when you look at roster construction. Saint Louis had a very good shot at contending with St Bonaventure, if not for the injury to Preseason All-Conference First Teamer, Javonte Perkins. A lot of question marks loom over the heads of the Billikens team. Yuri Collins will be even more important with Perkins’ season-ending injury.
Dayton is another team you can throw in the mix. A young team loaded with freshmen, who can shine in certain moments. Head Coach Anthony Grant will have his hands full with this group but can make it work. Georgia transfer, Toumani Camara should get a lot of touches offensively, averaging 12.8 PPG a season ago with Georgia. The Flyers have potential, is it enough to let them contend?
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